The International Space Station Expedition 25 landed on Nov. 25, 2010.
Station commander Doug Wheelock gave a great tour and demonstration of the Ham Radio on board before he came home.
Why Amateur Radio is Important
Roger Hunt, K7MEX
A version of this story appeared in the March 2014 edition of All Ears, the newsletter
published by the Escondido Amateur Radio Society (EARS) in California. I spoke with the
primary person involved in this incident, got some corrections to the original version of the
story, and the corrected version appears below.
There is a large off-road 4WD event in the Lake Havasu area held the third weekend of
March each year. Called Desert Run Havasu, it was March 13-16 this year, and involves
4-wheeling runs over trails of varying difficulty. One indvidual who participated this year
was retired attorney Bruce Boogaard, a new ham with the call sign KK6DKJ. Bruce got his
technician license less than a year ago, in April 2103, and admits he has never even been
on a repeater before, using his radios for simplex communication with other 4-wheelers.
Participating in the Desert Run Havasu, Bruce was navigating through an area with a large
group of off-road enthusiasts, and as he had been taught to do, kept his eyes on the
vehicle both in front and behind him. While most of the group used CB radios, Bruce and
another ham named Scott Connelly also kept in touch on a VHF ham frequency. Scott was
near the front of the group, while Bruce was near the rear. The group became widely
separated, with nearly two miles between the first and last vehicles in the group. The
distance proved to be a problem in the difficult terrain and some of the vehicles using CB
radios lost communication. However Bruce and Scott were able to maintain contact with
their ham radios.
Bruce eventually noticed the second vehicle behind him was driving erratically and falling
further behind. When the vehicle made a strange turn up the side of the wash, Bruce
contacted Scott and asked that he relay a message to the group leader by CB radio to stop.
Bruce turned back and checked on the driver, discovering he was incoherent and obviously
having some kind of medical emergency. Bruce updated Scott as to the problem and
stated they needed to get this guy to hospital as soon as possible. There was no cell
service in this remote area, but Bruce had brought with him the frequency and PL tone of
a nearby repeater. Though Bruce had never used a repeater, he was preparing to put the
information into the radio when he received a call on the simplex frequency, 146.550 MHz,
that he had been using to talk to Scott.
As luck would have it, a group of hams belonging to the Family Motor Coach Association
(FMCA) were having an RV ralley in the Lake Havasu area and were using the same
simplex frequency. He heard Bruce’s call to Scott, and since he had cell service where he
was located, offered to call 9-1-1. An ambulance was dispatched to the nearest trail head,
and the 4-wheelers were able to get the man there in about 20-25 minutes. The man was
transferred to the ambulance and later transported via Life Flight to a hospital in Phoenix.
It turned out the man had a blood vessel burst in his brain, but survived, partly because of
the quick action of the amateur radio operators involved. This incident is a classic example
of why ham radio helps save lives, and works when all else fails.
Congratulation Jeff VA6JL who bought, borrowed, aquired and traded for all the equipment needed to put together 3 fully functional linked UHF repeaters and install them at three sites on a shoestring budget. The usual HAM way.
CROSSFIELD ( NOT AT MONIES MUSHROOM ) 448.750 – 5 MHZ PL 107.2
RAC Bulletin 2014-008E – Industry Canada rolls out New Amateur Radio Exam Generator and Updated Question Bank
Today, March 6th, Industry Canada released a new set of amateur radio exam questions based on recommendations made by RAC and launched a new exam generator.
“This is good news that we were eagerly anticipating.”“ says Geoff Bawden, VE4BAW, President of RAC. “We were pleased to work with IC on this issue of significant importance to amateur radio operators and RAC will continue to work with Industry Canada to provide Canadian radio amateurs with the best possible circumstances to pursue their hobby.”
The new exam generator can be accessed at the following URL:http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/025.nsf/eng/h_00040.html
Why me!!! Couldn’t this have happened 3 months ago?
March 3rd 2014
RADIO AMATEURS OF CANADA PARTNER UP WITH RFINDER
“THE WORDLWIDE REPEATER DIRECTORY”
Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) and RFinder are excited to announce a new business partnership
agreement effective March 1st. RAC endorses RFinder as the official Worldwide Repeater Directory for
all Canadian amateur radio operators.
The RFinder is a steadily growing worldwide repeater directory including IRLP, Echolink, AllStar, DStar,
MotoTRBO, and even Winlink information. RFinder currently have over 175 countries in the directory.
Access to the World Wide Repeater Directory is provided by any version of the RFinder smartphone
apps on Android, iPhone and iPad/iPod Touch. The same user-id enables access from any version
of the RFinder app, the browser interface (web.rfinder.net), or through a growing list of third-party
memory programming applications such as RT Systems radio programmers and CHIRP open source
software. One subscription, access to worldwide repeater data from any computing device on
Windows, Linux, OS X, web, Android iPhone and soon on Windows Phone!
Canadian hams purchasing the RFinder application will financially benefit the Radio Amateurs of Canada
through the terms of this new agreement.
“Obviously, going forward, we encourage all Canadian Amateurs to consider RFinder as their repeater
directory provider. RAC staff and volunteers will proactively work with RFinder on providing repeater
directory information updates for Canada as repeater directory information is a constantly changing
environment” notes Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA, RAC Vice-President.
“Our partnership with RAC and the Amateur Radio community in Canada is a milestone in the
development of RFinder – The World Wide Repeater Directory. We offer the same agreement with
Radio Amateur societies world wide. This is a unique opportunity for each geography on Earth to have
their own branded Repeater Directory while giving their local Hams access to repeaters all over the
world, and financially supporting the local Amateur Radio advocacy group. We will translate to any
language!” says Bob Greenberg, W2CYK, creator of RFinder.
Canadian RFinder users will see a new graphic feature; the RAC logo appearing on their app as well.
RAC is the voice of amateur radio for all Canadians and is also a member society of the IARU
(International Amateur Radio Union).
RAC: Vincent Charron, VA3GX/VE2HHH, Dir. Comm. & Fundraising – firstname.lastname@example.org
RFinder: Bob Greenberg, W2CYK, creator – email@example.com
Personally I prefer www.repeaterbook.com Why wouldn’t I, it’s free!!!!!!!!!!
Testing “generic” MOSFETS for RF PA use
Earl, 4Z4TJ / VA6TJ
Low cost plastic MOSFET transistors can be used to make effective low power HF PAs. I have an amplifier I made with IRF510’s that effectively brings a Softrock transceiver output up to legal QRP (5 W out) with a 15 volt power supply. With that experience in mind, I started looking for plastic MOSFETs that were actually designed as RF amplifiers, and not as components in a switching power supply.
A while ago I bought some supposed RF MOSFETS on eBay from a supplier in China. I did not take sufficient care in checking out the history of the parts that are marked MS1307 from International Rectifier. A bit of Googling around showed that IR never made a transistor designated MS1307.
I decided that the transistors needed to be tested under actual RF amplification conditions, and not just with a multi-meter. Therefore I build up a simple test circuit, based on a 40m CW xmtr by VA3IUL, where I could plug in a MOSFET and test it as a 40m amplifier. The transistor socket was taken from the wiring harness of a discarded ATX computer power supply. The source of Q2 (tied to the emitter of Q1) needs to be grounded to obtain output – this is where the CW key would be attached, or in my case I soldered in a micro switch.
0.5 W out into 50 ohm load through LPF (5 v/division; 10 V P-P). Supply voltage = ~12 V
Initial results can be seen from the photos on the previous page. The transistors do amplify in this circuit and I can get a nice waveform if I adjust the gate bias (R5) voltage to give a maximum 1 W output into 50 ohms. Adjusting the bias to exceed this power level causes the scope trace to turn ugly showing that bias has shifted the transistor off the linear portion of its load-line. What needs to be done to determine the operating limits is to vary the input level to the MOSFET gate while maintaining the bias so the transistor is operating in its range and at different supply voltages. This is a good reason to buy a nice signal generator J
With the simple setup shown in the schematic at a supply voltage of 13.6V, PA voltage gain as measured with the scope probe, was determined to be approximately 15 db. Vin = 4 V P-P and Vout into 50 ohms = ~25 V P-P.
After this test, I thought about improving the impedance match into the MOSFET gate and buffering the output of the crystal oscillator. I adapted a section of a circuit from one of my Softrock transmitters and came up with this:
This circuit did not do much to improve the waveform going into the gate of the MOSFET but it did permit higher output power with a nice sine wave after the LPF. I could easily obtain 1.5 W out with a 13.6 V supply and a MOSFET gate bias voltage of 4.0-4.1 V (measured with open source).
I also tried reducing the bias on the oscillator transistor Q1 base by lowering the value of the base to ground resistor to about 2/3 the original value. This did not have any noticeable effect.
Breadboard with the added buffer amplifier and 9:1 input transformer to the MOSFET gate
I do not consider this circuit to be a useable transmitter. It’s a test jig for performing a rudimentary check on RF MOSFETs or picking a matched pair. As a transmitter the circuit is not appropriate: the leads are too long; there is no thermal protection in the bias, etc. For these reasons I am not going to invest effort in testing at a higher frequency. However, I did listen to the 7.3 MHz output (into a dummy load) on the station transceiver and, in fact, the CW sounded just fine, no key clicks, shifting notes or other QSD.
After a suitable number of cups of coffee the next morning, I realized that L1, R6 and C2 are to zero beat (pull) the crystal frequency when operating CW and are not needed for a test jig. If you remove them, it may be necessary to increase the value of C1 .
- Add an ammeter to be able to determine DC efficiency.
- Regulate the bias voltage supply.
- Compare RF amp results using different switching power supply transistors
- Determine the effect of increasing the supply voltage to 24 V.
I recommend checking out VA3IUL’s website http://www.qsl.net/va3iul/ where there are many circuits and ideas for projects. Thanks to Iulian for his assistance with this little project.
Earl, 4Z4TJ / VA6TJ
RADIO AMATEURS OF/DU CANADA applauds 60 meter band frequency allocations!
RAC has been working on achieving this new band allocation since 2010.
Industry Canada has announced that a number of specific frequencies within the 60 meter high frequency band have been approved for amateur radio use as RAC advocated. This is now in effect.
A total of five specific frequencies within the 5 MHZ band have been allocated, 5332 kHz, 5348 kHz, 5358.5 kHz, 5373 kHz and 5405 kHz. Radio amateurs across Canada have new frequencies to explore as a result of a recent decision of Industry Canada.
“Canada has joined a number of countries in making channels available in the 60 metre band, near 5MHz for use by radio amateurs. This will provide increased ability for Canadian radio amateurs to help out in providing emergency communications when existing systems fail as has happened in ice storms and flooding. We applaud this decision of the Canadian government.” said Geoff Bawden, President of Radio Amateurs of Canada.
Unlike the commercial communications systems so important to modern society, amateur radio does not require an extensive infrastructure for communications. Radio amateurs take advantage of natural phenomena to send their signals across town and around the world. They delight in being able to set up in a remote location with their own power supplies and simple antennas, often home built, competing to see who can make the most contacts in a limited time. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service in Canada, sponsored by RAC, provides training and organizes exercises for radio amateurs to sharpen their skills to be able to respond to emergencies. As well these organizations and amateur radio clubs often provide communications to community public service activities and events such as ski races and marathons, bicycle races and car rallies. The skills radio amateurs develop through their hobby and these activities mean that in emergencies that shut down power grids, internet and wireless communications, amateur radio can continue to function. In major emergencies such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011 and the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year amateur radio operators are often the first source of information from affected areas.
The key resource for amateur radio is access to the radio spectrum. Conditions in the atmosphere and high in the ionosphere determine the distances over which communications are possible. The new allocation at 60m between existing allocations at 80 m and 40m should make regional communications more reliable. Furthermore as Canada and the United States have allocated many of the same channels to their radio amateurs cross border communications are possible. Fortunately major emergencies are relatively rare. Radio amateurs will explore communications on the new frequencies as they do in all available bands, experimenting, learning and making new friends across the world.
The five 60 metre channel allocations are the same as authorized in the USA, with the same power restriction of 100 watts ERP (relative to a dipole antenna). Transmissions, independent of emission mode, must be centered on the each of the following frequencies: 5.332, 5.348, 5.3585, 5.373, and 5.405 MHz with a maximum allowable channel bandwidth of 2.8 kHz. When operating SSB, upper sideband will be the convention to follow on the 60 metre band. Other modes that are permissible will be CW, Data (including PSK 31 and Pactor III), and RTTY. With this latest authorization on operation on the 5 MHz channels to Canadian Amateurs with HF privileges, there will no longer be a requirement to operate under a special Developmental license and VX9 call sign. Holders of such licences can now let them lapse. Canadian amateurs should refer to the posting of RBR-4, Issue 2, for all details before proceeding to operate on the new 60 metre channels: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10650.html (copy the link to your browser)
Their curiosity and eagerness to develop and share this hobby will enrich the communities where they operate and provide needed resilience in communications when emergencies require it.
Technical details of this decision can be found here: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10623.htm (copy the link to your browser)
Tech/Admin contributions, Norm Rashleigh VE3LC. Glenn MacDonell VE3XRA.